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Bandaging: Be Creative!

One of our most challenging tasks as rat-keeping individuals is keeping said intelligent toothy critters from destroying wounds, particularly those big post-surgical wounds. I personally don't really like collars and yet more often than not, the rats drive you to having to use one.

The trick, I've found, is to:

    1) Use lots of fabric (it takes them longer to destroy it).
    2) Make it hard for them to slip out of it.
The "lots of fabric" part is easy but the latter concept is a bit of a challenge. If they see you put it on (like slipping a sock on) they know how to get it off (they're generally kind enough to do this as soon as you look away). If it's too loose, it's also easy to slip off. If it's too tight, you, of course, have problems. Figure 8's and similar tend to solve this problem and, wherever possible, I try to slip one in. For example, when BooBoo had his bumbles and it became clear that allowing him to put his feet in direct contact with anything was the real source of the problem, we didn't wrap his foot but rather figure-8ed around foot and thigh.

You also often need to think past the target area to get something to work out. For example, when one of our girls had a tumor removed by her rump, the "best" solution to keeping her away from it was reducing her flexibility at her chest (rather than covering the post-surgical wound itself).

And, you have to think past "just fabric." I purchased this bandaging tape once that frustrated me so much because it simply just didn't stick! I found that this exact tape is great for rats: It's hard for them to chew through. It, like all tape, sticks a lot better to itself than any surface. And it doesn't really stick to them either. For BooBoo's foot I used my "Curad Advanced Sof-Tape" and wrapped with that rather than fabric. I had a little pad on the underside of his foot, of course, but I used the stickiness of the tape (if you can even call it that) to hold the whole thing in place on his foot. It barely stuck to fur at all and was easily cut off (the tape, not the fur).

Below is one wrapping suggestion for a chest wrap that I found to be fairly effective: The concept is, again, the figure-8, but I made it a little easier to wrap by cutting arm-holes. With a narrower bandage, you could easily do the same just wrapping it around the arms 8-style:

And here's what it looks like on the rat:

P.S. If all else fails, use the collar in combination with a wrap. Generally you can put the collar on more loosely if you have a good wrap.

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Disclaimer: There are many non-sarcastic accounts and tips on the web regarding rat care. This is not one of them. These are merely accounts of our experiences with rats, our perceptions of these experiences, where we've failed and where we've succeeded. These accounts are here for two purposes:

    1) To entertain.
    2) To help avoid repetition of mistakes

  Remember! Your rat is not a science project, he is your friend!

All content contained herein © 1996-2007 by Andrew Waltz, Nathalie Baldwin, & the rats of RatRaisins, Inc.  
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